Monitoring and evaluation is carried out by scheme promoters (central government, local government) as well as other government organisations (National Audit Office). However, resources for monitoring and evaluation are often limited as the focus lies on developing schemes and Business Cases, as opposed to looking at what has already been delivered. This is particularly the case for smaller schemes that tend to escape public scrutiny.
In 2012 the DfT published a monitoring and evaluation framework for Local Authority Major Schemes (LAMS). This framework was developed partly in response to a National Audit Office (NAO) report concluding that the coverage, quality and resourcing of the evaluation of major schemes could be improved. The framework aimed to provide a consistent evaluation approach to facilitate programme analysis that is complementary to current devolution processes. It also aimed to meet DfT’s requirement to demonstrate value for money of its investments at a local level.
This framework establishes three types of monitoring depending on the scale of the investment:
- Standard monitoring. Minimum requirements for monitoring for all schemes.
- Enhanced monitoring. Requirements for schemes over £50m or which are anticipated to have a significant impact on particular indicators.
- Fuller evaluation. Selected schemes based on the scale of investment, the nature of the scheme and the benefits to be gained from the evaluation evidence generated.
The standard monitoring requirements include:
- Scheme build.
- Delivered scheme.
- Scheme objectives.
- Travel demand.
- Travel times and reliability of travel times.
- Impacts on the economy.
Enhanced monitoring requires additional consideration of noise, local air quality and accidents, and fuller evaluation is required to generate evidence on:
- Whether the scheme was delivered effectively and efficiently.
- The causal effect of the scheme on the anticipated outcomes and whether these have contributed to the intended impacts.
- Whether it had any unintended adverse or positive impacts.
The What Works Centre for Local Economic Growth notes that the current LAMS guidance provides an appropriate framework for undertaking scheme evaluation for individual local authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships.